Buttonholes, or, God is in the Details

I have made my Regency gown to go with the Regency coat.  It’s a plain blue cotton “round gown” (which term means the gown buttons in the back) with a touch of lace at the neck and wrists.  And I faced my fears and made the buttonholes on the coat (by hand) and the gown (by machine).  I hate making buttonholes.  Mine never come out looking tidy and decorative; they are just barely functional.

I have said elsewhere that I don’t like finish-sewing: hemming, cleaning up seams, sewing on trim and making buttonholes.  I like the big architectural aspect of sewing (in the same way that I like putting together Ikea furniture: you take many pieces and turn them into something else).  But there’s no point in spending money on fabric and notions and then leaving the seams to fray and the bottom to straggle and the buttons to go unbuttoned.  So I screwed my courage and my patience to the sticking point and hemmed and lined and stitched and, yes, buttonholed.

This is the lining for the back.  When you’ve got a curved seam you clip it so that it lies flat.  I wanted a really nice, tidy seam; thus, the French seam: after the seam is sewn, you clip one side very close to the stitching, fold the other on top of it with the raw edge tucked in, and stitch along the fold.  The result: 

When all the lining was stitched to the dress fabric, the sleeves set and the skirt attached, I then had to pin and hand-stitch the lining so that it covered all the unfinished bodice and sleeve seams, like so:

All the seams on the skirt were French-seamed too (really, you don’t want shreds of thread getting caught in your stockings when you’re trying to look ladylike and put together.  Then hemming; another hand-sewing job.  Since the skirt was lined, this meant two hems.  You want your hemstitching to be as invisible as possible, but you also want it to be strong enough to withstand, say, an inadvertent foot catching therein.

This was the best I could do:

Finally, the buttonholes.  I am no way pleased with the machined buttonholes on the dress, but with the buttons in place they don’t look too terrible.  I hope.

Sadly, with the buttons unbuttoned, the result was less pleasing.  With machine-sewn buttonholes I did the sewing first, and cut the hole afterward.

And here is the final product.  Which looks better on than off (the hallmark of a successful garment, I always think):

As for the coat: there were so many layers of fabric in the coat, I didn’t want to do machined buttonholes.  So I did them the old fashioned way, by hand.  With hand-sewn buttonholes, you cut the hole first and then bind the hole with stitching.

Finally: this time I did not make a blood sacrifice to the project, which was a happy thing.  On the other hand, a pin gave its all for the cause.  So glad it was the pin that got bent out of shape and not my finger.

The curious thing about this Regency sewing project?  I’m already thinking about the next project.

Meanwhile, back to writing.

About madeleinerobins

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